Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1918, Russia, Volume I
File No. 861.00/725
The Ambassador in Russia ( Francis) to the Secretary of State
[Received November 27.]
Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith enclosed, as a matter of information and probable interest to the Department, copy of the [Page 212] translation of an appeal, dated September 25/October 10 , by A. Kerensky, Russian Prime Minister, issued to the Russian people for their support.
I have [etc.]
Declaration of the Russian Provisional Government, September 25/October 8, 1917
Our country is again experiencing grave trouble. In spite of the speedy suppression of the Kornilov uprising, the1 shock occasioned by him is menacing the very existence of the Russian Republic.
Anarchy is reigning in the country; the pressure of the external enemy is increasing; counter-revolutionary elements are raising their heads, in the hope that the protracted crisis of authority, coupled with the feeling of exhaustion in the country, will help them to kill the freedom of the Russian people.
Great is the responsibility which the Provisional Government bears before the people in its mission to lead the country safely to the Constituent Assembly. This responsibility is lightened only by the profound belief that, united by a common desire to save the country and preserve the achievements of the revolution, representatives of all classes of the Russian people will understand their common aim of helping the Provisional Government to create an authority capable of practical work and able to solve the principal questions of the nation and to lead it without further trouble to the Constituent Assembly, the meeting of which must not be postponed for a single day.
Although supreme authority in the solution of all the great problems upon which depend the welfare of the Russian people must belong to the Constituent Assembly, the Provisional Government considers it its duty to strain all its efforts in the satisfactory solution of a series of measures of prime necessity.
In the firm conviction that only a general peace can give our great country an opportunity for developing all its creative forces, the Provisional Government will continue to pursue its active foreign policy in the spirit of the democratic ideals announced by the Russian revolution. Acting in full agreement with our Allies the Provisional Government will take part at the coming conference of Allied countries, where Russia will be represented by a person enjoying the full confidence of the democratic organizations. At this conference our representative will endeavor, in addition to coming to an agreement with our Allies regarding our common war aims, to effect an agreement with them on the basis of the principles announced by the Russian revolution.
While striving for peace, the Provisional Government will exert all its efforts towards the protection of the Allied cause, towards the defense of the country, and a firm resistance to all attempts to force a foreign will on Russia, and towards expelling the enemy from the country.
In its endeavors to increase the fighting strength of the army, the Provisional Government will work along democratic lines. The choice of a commanding staff well prepared technically and answering the requirements of modern warfare, and at the same time devoted to the republican order, and working in close cooperation with the army committees will be made the basis in the organization of the army. By these means will be paved the way towards the establishment of military discipline, without which a powerful army is unthinkable. An exact definition of the rights and duties of the army committees will be announced in a separate decree, which will lend them due firmness. One of the measures necessary to raise the fighting strength of the army is to [Page 213] decrease the number of mobilized men at the expense of the rear organizations which have unduly grown, by discharging first of all the older soldiers.
The desire to preserve the country from further economic difficulties and to diminish the heavy burden lying on the shoulders of the laboring elements of the country, prompts the Provisional Government to take the following measures, supplementing and developing what has already been done by the Government:
The Provisional Government will endeavor to fix firm prices on the main products of industry, regulating at the same time the mutual relations between capital and labor particularly as to wages and working time. Cooperative societies will be widely utilized in the preparation and distribution of foodstuffs and manufactured articles. The private commercial apparatus will be widely utilized for the same purpose under direct state control. State control will be introduced over the industry with the participation of representatives of the capitalists and the working classes who will be entitled to intervene in the management of industrial concerns for the purpose of increasing production. Labor exchanges and conciliatory boards will receive further development for the purpose of protecting the right of workers in all branches of industry to coalesce and at the same time protecting the technical staffs from arbitrary action.
Preliminary measures for gradually demobilizing industry and for diminishing suffering from inevitable unemployment, and, in particular, a plan for social work intended to remedy the damage inflicted by the war, will all receive due attention.
The solution of the land problem will be effected under the direct supervision of the local committees, to which will be transferred all lands of agricultural value, without, however, violating the existing proprietorship. The land committees will be entrusted with the full exploitation of such lands, in order to save the national wealth from further disorganization.
The Provisional Government proposes to undertake a revision of inheritance taxation, taxes on surplus incomes and on luxuries, to introduce a tax on property, to increase the existing indirect taxes and to introduce new sources of income in the form of financial monopolies.
The democratic legislation in local government will be further developed, gradually handing over to the municipalities the management of all matters of a local character.
Measures guaranteeing to the nationalities the right of self-government will be enacted by the Constituent Assembly. The Government will take steps to secure for the national minorities the right to use their own language in schools, law courts, in municipal institutions, and in communication with state institutions.
The Provisional Government is fully aware that all these aims cannot be achieved in the short period remaining before the meeting of the Constituent Assembly. But the initial steps in the realization of these aims will help to lighten the task of the Constituent Assembly and will give the Government effectual support in its active defense of the country and the restoration of the national economic life, as well as in its resolute fight against counterrevolution and anarchy, which are ruining the country and the revolution.
In this struggle, as well as in all its undertakings, the Government will act in close cooperation with the democratic organizations, seeing in such cooperation the most effective means for the solution of the problems before the country.[Page 214]
To insure the Government contact with the organized forces of the country, and thereby to gain the necessary strength and firmness, a Provisional Council will be formed, to act until the meeting of the Constituent Assembly. The council will be representative of all the elements of the country and will also contain the delegates selected by the Democratic Congress. The council will have the right to address interpellations to the Government and to receive replies within a definite period, to work out legislative measures and to consider all those questions which will be referred to it by the Provisional Government or which may arise out of its own initiative. The Provisional Government will consider it its duty to consider in all its actions the national importance of the council until the time when the Constituent Assembly will give to all elements of the country full and perfect representation.
Firmly standing in support of this program which expresses the hope of the whole people, the Government invites all the citizens to immediate and active preparation for the Constituent Assembly. The Government hopes that all the citizens will unite around it for common work in the name of the fundamental and prime questions of our time—the defense of the country from the external enemy, the restoration of law and order, and the safe conduct of the country until the convocation of the Constituent Assembly.
- Maxim Gorky’s New Life. ↩